Friday Froth: Buck The Trend...Drink Good Beer

James Gribbon

Modern hipsterism is a weird and annoying thing. Here's how it goes: people had settled into a fairly stable fashion landscape by the time the millennium rolled around so they naturally started looking around for the next big thing. Lacking any creativity or new ideas of their own, they decided to take the most hideous and outdated clothing they could find and wear it as publicly as possible because "Haha, aren't I funny and clever and please oh god look at me." Since wearing ugly clothes is easier than actually being interesting, and neon hats from 1992 were cheaper than water, it caught on. Then everybody found out about The Cobrasnake and now the landscape is littered with "Aren't I cool for not looking cool but really that's what's cool about it but I'm too cool to acknowledge I actually really think this is cool." It's the Inception of pop culture trends, and somehow beer got caught up in it. I'm sure PBR doesn't mind that every idiot with an ironic mustache and Ladyhawke on their iPod has to have a Blue Ribbon tallboy in their hand, but this is the acid reflux disease of trends. It was ugly the first time, let's not have it again. Let's try something new, and let the revolution start with beer.

Alexander Keith's Light Ale may be all over the place in Hallifax, but no one is rocking it in the tri-states yet, and I encourage you to get in on the ground floor. It's yellow and fizzy with no head, and the aroma is all adjuncts. The first taste is reminiscent of American macro-swill, and so is every one after that. This is key: it looks like you're drinking something interesting, but inside it's nothing interesting, but you're drinking it anyway, so you can act like you're drinking it ironically, and BROONNNNNNNGG this Class Actress CD can be your Inception totem because who knows which way is up anymore and anyway CDs are totally retro. So this Canadian maritimes Natty Light is the perfect hipster beer. I don't know how drinking it is going to fight the trend of twenty year olds wearing mom jeans halfway up their ribcage, but it's a start.

Hunter S. Thompson was both genuinely strange and fascinating, and once said that good people drink good beer. One of those good people was his neighbor George Stranaha, who, and I've mentioned it before, started Flying Dog Brewery. Flying Dog Doggie Style proves that not all rehashing is just empty posing. This classic American pale ale pours a caramel color with a noticeable head and a malt/hops aroma that signals this is a real beer. The first sip of this brings that authenticity with it: this is one for the beer fans. There is an instant taste of malts made crisp and fresh by a mild but spot on 35 IBUs of hops that only become more apparent as the beer warms slightly. As time goes by and that hop bouquet flourishes, you may notice your pint's head dissolve into a fine, thin lace which sticks to the glass and leaves rings of malt proteins. That's real. Doggie Style is a finely crafted, flavorful beer as ideally suited for an extended drinking session as it is for those nights when the marching orders say "just one or two, soldier." Look out for it - Flying Dog beers aren't hard to find.

Fall seasonals are some of the best beers available at any point in the year, and the colder months usher in the season of the barleywine. Widmer Brothers Galaxy Hopped Barleywine Ale is a member of the Brothers' Reserve collection, and is another new take on an old favorite. It pours a syrupy ruby color and has a sweet aroma from the Belgian Candi sugar used in the brewing. This ale's aroma has hints of cherries, bananas and alcohol, which is fitting at almost 10% ABV. The sweetness of the fermentables in this beer is cut nicely with the citrusy tang of the Australian Galaxy hops which lend their name. It has a surprisingly light mouthfeel for a barleywine, and all of the above make it just what the Friday Froth ordered for times when the air begins to have some real snap. 

Authenticity doesn't come from drinking something because you saw Dennis Hopper shout about it in a movie once, it comes from having something real inside to back it up. Good beer is identical to good food in that they're both crafted by people who care to put the time and effort into gathering and preparing quality ingredients. Fashion trends are just bubbles waiting to pop, style has substance. Craft beers can burst the hollow bubble of tasteless brews and bring substance and enlightenment to the experience of drinking. Call me unhip, but I think that matters.